Arming all Sides conducted research into the arms trade before, during and after the First World War. The project aimed to compare and contrast the arms trade at the time with it now, in the run up to the First World War Centenary commemorations.
'A battery shelled' by Wyndham Lewis. Three officers stand to the left of the composition beside a pile of ammunition boxes. Each looks in a different direction. There are marionette-like figures moving over broken ground, amongst the huts and shattered trees. Streams of stylised smoke erupt from incoming shells and spreads across the sky. / © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2747)

After the First World War many believed the arms trade to be a primary cause of war. The unprecedented scale of death and destruction wrought by modern weaponry led a majority of people to support disarmament and international conciliation. Arming All Sides questions what role the arms trade played before, during and after the war, what opposition was mounted to the trade and how the war affected what people thought about making and selling armaments.

25 volunteer researchers scoured archives and libraries the length and breadth of Britain to uncover the case studies you can read on this website. Many of them also wrote up their research for the site. The case studies are organized around four themes: the making and selling of arms, opposition to the arms trade, the government’s relationship with the trade and cultural perceptions and representations of the arms trade. You can also explore them through the timeline or by location.

The Heritage Lottery Fund provided funding for this project to the Trust for Research and Education on the Arms Trade. The project was managed by Campaign Against Arms Trade and On the Record Community Interest Company.

Year 10 students from George Mitchell School in Waltham Forest, London conducted a modern day Peace Ballot to gauge public opinion towards the arms trade compared to the 1930s. Read more (and watch a film of the Ballot in action) here.

Find out how you can still take part using the take part links above or on the right; by using this website as an educational resource, organising a talk by one of our researchers or joining the work of Campaign Against Arms Trade.